About 4 years ago my friend Diane stated that I was going to arrange her 40th birthday party. Neither of us realised how quickly this year would ascend upon us and 6 months ago we sat down to discuss the details.
We had literally found and booked a venue until one Sunday when I accidentally stumbled upon the LIVING ROOM in Maboneng and I quickly messaged Di not to pay the deposit for our venue.
I contacted Cara, from the Living Room and asked if there was a hotel nearby for her family from Cape Town as well as her 95 year old gran. Her response sealed the deal for us as she even offered to arrange a Tuc Tuc for Di’s gran.
Di’s family are so important to her and changing to a day- time party meant that everyone close to her was able to enjoy every moment of the occasion.
Originally we had booked one of the Livingroom’s Jazz band and DJ but a few weeks before the function Jacques Lagesse was able to perform at the party and host the music and Di’s every party dream was fulfilled.
Not even the forecast of a cold front or the early evening storm interrupted our plans of dancing while the sun set to a beautiful view of our city.
The last time I encountered such well- trained staff was at the One & Only in Cape Town. There are no words for the efficiency, pro-activeness and helpfulness of the team at the Living Room.
The food was sublime, beautifully presented and is by far the ONLY function venue to book in Johannesburg. They are so flexible in that they allow you to do the catering as an alternative option and so I brought in the cake table for dessert.
My beautiful friend. Forty and Fabulous
I was very limited to décor as everything had to be transported to the city and most of the décor was made with paper and recycled bottles.
It was very “party-like” but that just added to the fun element and the beautiful venue just absorbed all the bright colours …
About a year ago I purchased an antique printers tray restored into a beautiful table-come-desk.
However, my product was sadly delivered battered and bashed and after a series of unhelpful exchanges and frustration, I returned my very expensive table and demanded a refund.
I thought nothing of the table, until recently where I was gifted this beautiful hand-made version by my sister and very talented brother-in-law.
Frequent visits to my sister a few months ago left me convinced that she was suffering from depression as she kept the curtains drawn, ignored the yowling dogs who clearly wanted to go outside and acted rather oddly.
Once during an impromptu visit, I arrived while my sister was hosting a Sunday braai and her and my cousin kept shuffling around and whispering, leaving me awkwardly convinced that I was unwelcome.
I subsequently discovered the table (which they had tried to speedily conceal with towels) and it was revealed that my sister was trying to contain the handy work in progress on their patio and keep my birthday present a surprise!
It finally arrived-3 months after my birthday and I had such fun with my daughters filling every little slot with my tools and craft goodies. They are now beautifully displayed and I don’t need to rummage through little containers to find an item.
The final table looks so gorgeous and I have moved it from my study into my arty Mandela guest bathroom, giving my guests something to ogle at while sitting on the loo.
When a cold front sweeps in, all I want to do is eat. Eat, eat, eat
I’m really trying not to eat too much and so I started my day with a super smoothie: Liquid Gold, coconut water, hemp, superfood powders, probiotics and all sorts of green stuff.
I’m going to end the day with liquid as well-wine- lots of red wine-and so I thought if I added a liquid dessert to my lunch it could hardly be considered EATING.
This is a rather complex way to make a simple hot chocolate, but then this is not just any hot chocolate.
The thickness is reminiscent of the delicious dark concoction we savoured in Italy, after each day of skiing.
Served straight from the machine into espresso or cappuccino cups, it was pure bliss after a day in the snow.
It’s a beautiful dessert, but not for the faint hearted. It’s sweet and rich and while cooking angrily spits and splatters before it yields into a smooth and mellow liquid.
But at least it cannot be considered as EATING.
Dark chocolate soup with toasted cinnamon croutons (8)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
Pinch of salt
3 cups cream
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1. Combine the sugar and water in a pan and cook till the sugar changes colour
2. Bring to the boil until the syrup turns a deep amber colour then immediately remove the pan from heat and add the cream-it splatters, turns into a hard ball but eventually dissolves.
3. Bring this mixture to a boil while stirring, remove from heat and add the espresso powder and chocolate.
4. Stir until the mixture is smooth, divide the soup among 8 bowls and place a scoop of double thick cream, mascarpone or whipped cream on top. Add croutons and serve immediately.
Ready bought flapjacks/crumpets
Some melted butter
Sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle
Using a star (or other) cookie cutter, cut out shapes from your flap jack.
Brush with melted butter and sprinkle sugar and cinnamon mixture on top.
Pop onto a non-stick mat, place in a heated oven and bake until golden brown
I had the urge to make a winter-style pudding for my family last night-a freezing cold front calls for more than just a good meal and what a meal it was. A gorgeous and healthy chicken casserole with brown organic rice, a roasted pumpkin salad with a mild curry dressing and those crunchy cinnamon and flax nuts from Woolies, grass fed free-range sirloin steaks served with a slice of smoked butter and goats milk butter and of course this tart.
Towards the middle of baking this tart has the most gorgeous smell, of all things South African: Tennis biscuits, cinnamon, pie apples and condensed milk turning to a light caramel.
It’s reminiscent of that old fashioned apple pudding and has a similar sauce to pour over when it’s out the oven but it’s lighter as it uses less flour and less sugar.
My photo’s are dismal. All that was left of this tart was a teeny short slice, but it was too good not to blog immediately.
The photos of the gorgeous Skinny Bitch table theme: Sunset & Seagulls, have been posted on: Party, crafts, table styling
For details of the theme, prices of the items, stockists and how-to’s please refer to the notes which have been posted under OLD COURSE NOTES (summer). To access these, please order a file for R140 Balela.co.za and the password will be provided.
Here is a quick preview.
These exquisite mouthfuls of goodness were adapted from my friend Lisa Brink’s repertoire of recipes and they make a cookie jar filler with a difference!
Lisa uses ½ cup soft brown sugar in her recipe and even with the addition of sugar these are far healthier than any shop-bought treat .
In fact Lisa makes these so often, she came up with a novel way of cooking them into impressive little rounds.
To make them healthier ,play around with your preferred sugar alternatives. You could use Xylitol, honey, coconut sugar or Agave but it’s essential to test them as they may need a bit longer in the oven to crisp up.
It’s entirely unnecessary to drizzle these with chocolate-or even add chocolate chips to the mixture-cranberries give a lovely sweet and chewy bite to the Florentine. I found that by only adding cranberries the Florentines could be crumbled over a salad as an alternative to caramelised nuts. The chocolate, however, is most appealing to kids and it’s a great way to get them to sample this healthier biscuit.
My next step is to practice making them with only Miracles Plus Plus –thereby reducing the prep time to seconds, not minutes!
Seeded Florentines (about 36)
1 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1 ¼ cups pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 tablespoon raw honey
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
½ cup cranberries and choc chips
Large handful cranberries and chocolate chips (optional)
2 free-range extra-large egg whites, beaten with a fork.
• Mix ingredients together
• Spray 3 cupcake tins with Spray & Cook and spoon a generous spoonful of mixture into each hollow. Press down with the LID of the Spray & Cook can
• Bake at 180 ˚C for approximately 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and, while the biscuits are still warm, press down AGAIN with the lid and then allow them to cool.
• Remove and serve as lunch box treats, snacks or break up onto salads for an alternative to caramelised nuts or enjoy with yoghurt for a granola alternative